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I just did something that was either absolute genius or pretty much evil. Or maybe just borderline stupid.

There’s someone out there, someone young and female, who is convinced that my email address is hers. How do I know this? She has repeatedly signed up for Xanga accounts, on which she posts her violent responses to the million tribulations of adolescence, her cutting, her anorexia, her general abjection.

And she does so using my email address, so I get daily updates on her and her commenters. The first couple of times this happened, I emailed the abuse folks at Xanga, asked them to deal with it. The third time, I got proactive, so to speak, and used that contested email address (and the password I’m so easily able to obtain through it) to log in and change the email address on her account.

This kinda got stepped up this morning. About a week ago, in a fit of fury over the now six-month-long total breakdown in calendar-and-contacts syncing functionality in .Mac, I began looking for alternate syncing mechanisms, and came upon Plaxo. I signed up for a trial account and began poking around, only to decide that, in fact, I didn’t want to use the service. (I don’t remember why. Some scruple about not wanting to run information that personal through a social software system.) So when I started getting the messages from Plaxo to confirm my email address, I just ignored and trashed them.

Except they kept coming. And so today I got frustrated, and logged in, and deleted my account.

Except. You see this coming, right? It wasn’t my account. It was hers. Which I fully realized in the split second before I hit delete. And then went on and hit delete anyhow.

I thought something was weird when I tried to log in and my usual baseline “I’m not terribly worried about security here” password didn’t work, so I reset it. And when I logged in, there were two email addresses assigned to the account: mine, and one with some variant on “cutiexox” as the username. And in the upper left corner of the window, Plaxo welcomed to the site someone with a first name that starts with K but is not mine.

I feel somewhat bad for having done this. Probably I should just have deleted my email address, and not killed the account altogether. But I’m beginning to think that her continuing email confusion is on some level intentional. Who gets their own email address wrong, repeatedly, over such a protracted period of time?

Part of me, too, keeps having these moments of regret about foiling my own opportunities for watching this girl’s story unfold, for being, in a deeply voyeuristic way, well beyond that of the regular reader of any online diary, somehow party to the tale.

And then I think of the spam that this kid could no doubt generate for me, not to mention the general obnoxiousness of lurking in her various accounts, and figure that we’re all better off this way.


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